Why technician ring groups for MSPs aren’t good for your business.

Having a technician ring group for your MSP is one of the WORST things you can do for your business!

We understand why you THINK it’s the best customer service solution, as it has the benefits of:

  1. Clients getting instant service.
  2. Clients immediately reach an actual human being, which is rare these days! 
  3. Clients feeling instant stress relief and reassurance speaking to someone.

But here’s the catch…

It only descends your MSP into Chaos by producing more harmful effects long term, including:

  • Creating an inconsistent service to clients.
  • Not being able to run a well-organized help desk.
  • Distracting the help desk from absolute productivity.
  • Making it difficult to retain top employees.

Having provided staff for over 30 MSPs now, we here at Support Adventure have seen that the ones without the ring group flourish more than the ones with them. 

How so

Let’s dig deeper into why the ring group system isn’t so great in the long run. 

Actually, ring group for MSPs can be ideal under some circumstances

Before we dive into the negative effects, we do think there are circumstances where the ring group concept works very well.

For instance, our founder Eric, once upon a time, worked remotely for a London MSP where he manned the support line for 15 hours a week.

He found that the ring group strategy was beneficial to the company he worked for because: 

  • He wasn’t receiving a bazillion calls.
  • He was under-engaged with critical tasks, and could easily and swiftly resolve the calls. 
  • He was rarely working on more than one ticket when he received calls, thus he never lost momentum with tasks.
  • His workdays were arranged with a lot of breathing room to get tasks done. 
MSP ring groups work well in instances where there isn’t an overload of work or tasks for the tech.

As you can see, the ring group system works well when support techs aren’t spread too thin with their workload and incoming calls.

Most ring groups for MSPs are being used in the wrong context

Unfortunately, most MSPs have full-time staff with many tasks. Technicians don’t have the time and room to work with that Eric did, making a ring group detrimental to their performance when

  1. They are already In the middle of something very important.
  2. They feel off balance by the varying levels of task importance they are dealing with.
  3. They are expected to stop what they’re doing and answer the phone.
  4. They are faced with the dilemma of: “Should I drop what I’m doing and pick up the phone?” or “Should I let someone else get it?”

This leads to a lot of stress for the technicians as it is distracting and disrupts focus and momentum. Your level 2 and 3 engineers particularly shouldn’t be held-up in this way.

Ring groups for MSPs can also lead to bad customer service

MSPs might frustrate their clients if ring groups are managed poorly.

For your top technicians, it is discombobulating for them to receive a frantic call  from a client needing immediate assistance for a low level task. 

This is not an ideal working condition for them. High level techs work especially best when

  1. They work on one ticket at a time.
  2. They finish all ticket notes before proceeding to tackle an issue.
  3. They can research issues put on the ticket notes before calling the user.
  4. They can collect all the logins and get everything lined up to resolve an issue more efficiently. 

It is not efficient for your most talented technicians to man a telephone and spend two to three minutes collecting a clients personal information, handles, etc. 

It is better for everyone if the client writes an email with the issue which then gets collected into your ticketing system.

In one fell swoop, the technician would know everything they need to know to resolve the matter.

Everything in your business will run better if your clients send emails for support and  only call when it is urgent. You must educate them to do this.

Hiring a dispatcher greatly organizes the support queue

We always recommend that MSPs hire a dispatcher

They can manage the intake of tickets to shield senior techs from having to do that. They can also knock down low hanging fruit themselves. 

We always advise to hire a dispatcher for your MSP to create less chaos.

If a dispatcher can’t resolve an issue on the first touch, they can simply escalate the ticket to someone who can.

If you can’t get a dispatcher just yet, you can easily use a triage tech to do this, or, at the very least, improve your email support. 

Just ensure that when a user’s email comes in, that ticket is responded to in a timely fashion

But the real question is… why are clients calling so much?

They really don’t have to be. 

Your MSP life would be so much easier if they aren’t!

You do this by setting communication boundaries, which Forbes describes as being crucial for the employer, employee and the clients

If you instill the communication boundary of requiring your users to send a support request email instead of calling, clients will indeed email instead.

If they proceed to defy this boundary, you need to manage their expectations better. You can reprogram them to communicate with you the way you like. 

You can do this by making sure they know how soon they can expect a call after sending an email.

If you prefer that they schedule a time with you to resolve an issue, make that clear instead. 

As long as tickets are responded to in a timely fashion, clients will adjust to emailing

You also have to fulfill the promise of consistency.

Clients needs to know:

  • What will happen when they call. 
  • What will happen when they email.
  • What will happen when they need urgent help.
  • What will happen when they don’t need urgent help.

We always advise establishing a communication procedure for clients to follow,  like the one below:

UrgentNon-Urgent
PhoneScheduled call/video chat 
Email with a subject starting with “Urgent”Email

Naturally, you must define as well which types of issues are urgent and which are not.  

Establish a consistent system for resolving tickets instead of using ring groups for MSPs

Consistency will help condition your clients to follow your communication procedures as it helps manage expectations.

Your dispatcher or triage tech should work on tickets for no more than 30 minutes  before escalating them to a higher level tech

And as we said earlier, the dispatcher can work on lower hanging fruit like password resets and basic login issues. 

The triage tech can log into users’ machines, poke around, take screenshots, etc.

What you don’t want are clients calling about random unlogged tickets at random times, getting through to random techs doing random other tasks, at random times!

The worst thing you can do is have your senior technicians in a disorganized ring group.

Let’s imagine one of your best technicians is working on a critical migragration, and  is interrupted with a frantic user who needs help with their printer. 

Your technician kindly tells them to wait to have their issue looked at, which annoys the user. That senior tech then receives blow back, which makes them resent working for your MSP.

They then realize they could work for a more organized MSP and leave your company. 

Don’t have your best talent working the front lines If you don’t want to lose them.

If you really like prioritizing phone support, then just get cheerful frontliners

If the old school customer service experience of reaching an actual human is a non-negotiable for you, we get it.

So why not just invest in hiring a bunch of great frontline techs excited to help people?

That will be the core of their job. If you have enough of them, perhaps nine or ten, then someone will almost always be available to handle clients immediately. You might even want to over-staff on this a bit. 

Hire a bunch of front line texts if you don’t want to compromise on a great phone support experience.

In cases where they are all on the phone, the call will go to a dispatcher, if you have one of course. 

The dispatcher will also make sure the techs are not spending too much time on a ticket. 

When the frontline techs can’t handle a ticket alone, they can escalate it to someone who can. 

And when they are not working on tickets, they can work on other must-do tasks like:

  • Auditing documentation
  • Making sure users and passwords are up-to-date
  • Other MSP housekeeping tasks that you can define and list as auxiliary tasks (ask eric during meeting for more)

Having these frontliners will knock two birds with one stone, as they will provide  clients with consistent service, and fulfill those housekeeping tasks.

As you scale your msp, you must have a system for dealing with requests. Your mission critical work must be done with precision, focus and correct documentation. 

If you take on board these recommendations and get rid of the ring group, you will

  1. Improve staff satisfaction.
  2. Improve your quality of service.
  3. Improve the satisfaction of your clients.

Removing the chaos of the ring group truly is a win for everyone.

Do you have any questions about any of the implementations we suggested for you? Comment below and we are happy to help. 

Categories: MSPs